Board sets course for Society’s long-term success

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for innovative solutions across the world, and the ASCE Board of Direction, for its part, delivered for the Society.

At its quarterly meeting, July 10-11, the Board passed several key decisions that ensure ASCE’s long-term success in the post-pandemic world.

“I believe the bold actions taken by our Board will better position our Society to engage a broader global audience and conduct Society activities more sustainably,” ASCE 2020 President K.N. Gunalan, Ph.D., P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE, said. “It’s critical that we continue making the Society more attractive to the next generation of professionals while sustaining it for long-term success.”

Pivot to virtual

The Board voted to approve the budgets for fiscal year 2021, which include continued work on the Society’s digital strategy, a significantly increased emphasis on virtual activities, and an organizational realignment to make ASCE more nimble in addressing ongoing changes to the association business model that have accelerated due to COVID-19.

One important change reflected in the budget is a move toward developing more digital and virtual products, services and member-value programs. The reduction in travel generates immediate financial benefits and reduces ASCE’s carbon footprint, while also enabling greater and broader participation from members who serve as active volunteers.

Other potential budget options include streamlining ASCE headquarters operations, a possible consolidating and realigning of the Society’s committee structure, and sunsetting programs.

“While details are still being finalized, these changes will allow us to focus on our strategic priorities, including growing membership, better meeting the needs of our students and early career professionals, and helping our members practice and lead in the near term and into the foreseeable future,” Gunalan said.

The specifics of these changes will be finalized and announced before the start of the new fiscal year (Oct. 1). Meanwhile, the Program and Finance Committee will bring another projected plan to the Board at the October meeting with additional adjustments consistent with the Board’s guidance. In a related move toward making the Society more effective and efficient, a Task Committee on Committee Realignment presented a potential plan for reorganizing and realigning the Society’s committee structure. The Board accepted the information as an interim report, while asking the task committee to broaden its membership, do more member outreach and amend the report for consideration in October.

Dues changes

The Board received a report on new membership models, prepared over the course of the last year to maximize potential growth opportunities.

Among the changes the Board voted to support was to modify the terms and criteria for Life Membership. These changes will be finalized and communicated over the coming year and will not go into effect until the 2022 membership year.

“This will better align Life Member criteria and fees with our overall membership and dues structure and enable us to continue to support the programs and services valued by our growing number of Life Members,” Gunalan said.

Supporting young engineers

The Board also voted to approve that young ASCE members, those practicing professionals 28 years old and younger, will pay 50 percent of the regular member dues rate.

President-Elect Jean-Louis Briaud gave an update on his monthly student presidential group calls with ASCE student leaders from around the world.

The Board also prioritized strategies to improve student transition. Most notably, the Board voted to automate membership upgrades from graduating college students to associate membership on a one-year, free-trial basis.

The Board also recognized the appointment of Elizabeth Ruedas as a 2021 at-large director. Ruedas has been a prominent younger member leader during the past several years.

Other highlights

The Board voted to approve on first reading the draft of a new ASCE Code of Ethics, as presented by the Task Committee on the Code of Ethics, which has been working for 18 months on a streamlined code. A final draft will be published on the ASCE website in September before going back to the Board for a second reading in October, when it will require a two-thirds vote of approval to officially be adopted.

ASCE’s Future World Vision recently gave members a sneak peek at its next future world, Mega City, during a June webinar. The Board voted to extend the work contract through the calendar year to continue progress on the floating city and megacity projects.

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